Masters of Pinot Noir

On February 7, I'll be leading a tasting of great pinot noir, but probably not the wine that varietal name first brings to mind. Yes, pinot noir produces one of the world's great red wines, but it is also responsible for one of the world's great white wines, Champagne.

In a tasting at Miami's boutique wine shop Wine By The Bay, I'll showcase one of the best of the smaller producers of Champagne, Egly-Ouriet. Regarded as one of wizards of pinot noir in Champagne, Egly-Ouriet is well known for its Blanc de Noir, a white Champagne made only from pinot noir. In this tasting at Wines By The Bay, we'll sample a full range of Egly-Ouriet's wines, including a still pinot noir and five sparkling wines:

  • Egly Ouriet Ambonnay Red (100% Pinot Noir from Ambonnay)
  • Grand Cru Brut Tradition (non-vintage, 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay)
  • Grand Cru Rosé (non-vintage, 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay)
  • Grand Cru Millesime 2004 (vintage, 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay) 
  • Grand Cru Millesime 2005 (vintage, 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay) 
  • Grand Cru NV Blanc de Noir (non-vintage, 100% Pinot Noir)
IN the cellars of Egly-Ouriet in Ambonnay

IN the cellars of Egly-Ouriet in Ambonnay

This is going to be a fun tasting because we'll have the chance to delve into the terroir of Champagne. For the larger producers, the glory of Champagne is in the blending of three grape varieties from dozens of villages, each with its own terroir. Drawing on so many vineyard sites, these producers can craft a wine that has a consistent style from year to year. For small grower-producers, the perspective is just the opposite - a blend of grapes perhaps, but from a very limited area to focus on a specific soil, usually subject to more vintage variation but with more focused power providing the vineyard sites are really good. With Egly-Ouriet we can expand on this micro-focus a bit because Francis Egly owns vineyards (almost 10 hectares) in four different areas, all in the sub-region called Montaigne de Reims. This sub-region is where pinot noir flourishes but there is some extremely good chardonnay grown here and about 25% of Egly's holdings are planted with chardonnay, and nearly all of his vines are more than 40 years old. He has one plot that was planted in 1946, so nearly 70 years old, ancient by Champagne standards!

With the tasting, I'll give an overview of the Champagne process and region, so if you are fairly new to Champagne you won't be left wondering what all the fuss is about. Think of this as a Champagne Masterclass - a chance to really get into your bubbles with examples from one of the most gifted winemakers in the region. If you want to learn more about Champagne, or if your passion is discover exciting producers who take one type of wine to new levels of refinement and -- let's coin a word here -- deliciousness, this is an event you must join!

The tasting is projected to start at 8pm and will include a few nibbles (after all, Champagne is the supreme food wine), a discussion of what makes Champagne a unique wine, the tasting proper and a question and answer session. It is guaranteed to be enlightening as well as effervescent! Seats at this small-group tasting are very limited, so book early -- visit the Wine By The Bay website or call them at (305) 455-9791.